Religions of Authority and the Religion of the Spirit

Religions of Authority and the Religion of the Spirit

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Religions of Authority and the Religion of the Spirit

Religions of Authority and the Religion of the Spirit

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Excerpt

This volume forms a sequel to the work which the author published in 1897, under the title, "Outlines of a Philosophy of Religion based upon Psychology and History."

Two systems of theology still confront one another: the theology of authority and the theology of experience. They are characterised by methods radically opposed in the scientific development of religious ideas and Christian dogmas. To the solution of the question of method the present work is consecrated. At the present hour one method is dying and destined soon to disappear; the other is taking on ever more vigorous development, and is destined to triumph.

The problem here discussed belongs not simply to the order of philosophy. It reacts strongly upon the social order. In fact, the relations between civil and religious society, between Church and State, necessarily differ in character according as religion is conceived of as an inner inspiration upspringing in human consciences that have been tilled and sown by the divine Spirit, or as a supernatural institution charged by a higher and external authority with the education, training, and government of human spirits. In the first case religion becomes inherent in civil society itself, as it is in the human conscience; it acts beneath the surface, like the hidden sap that awakens the winter-bound tree to the new life of spring, yet neither suppresses nor does violence to its legitimate development. In the second, on the contrary, religion claims external authority as a divine law to which all human laws must yield, as an extra-human truth which the intelligence must receive with docility, as a tutelage, in fact, to which man must submit. Hence inevitably arise those irremediable conflicts, less violent among Protestant nations . . .

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